The Government is secretly grappling with the dilemma of paying out climate change compensation to beachfront property owners.
And one of the options on the table is buying up homes that are at risk of being swamped by sea level rises.
No homes are at risk of being “swamped”, at least not in the next couple of decades.
“We’re going to start talking to the country about sea level rise and risk next year,” a government source told Stuff, on condition of anonymity. “The first thing that people ask is: ‘well, who pays.’
“If we don’t have any kind of answer to the compensation question, it just creates panic.”
The Government is “hyper-aware” of the implications of such a discussion, the source said.
“If [we say] people’s houses are going to go underwater…people’s property prices will tank …they would stop shopping – and the economy will tank.
This is hysterical nonsense. There will be no panic as the rise in sea levels (which is real) is not at this stage at a fast pace. And yes it is projected that pace will increase, but not for some time.
“If [the Government indicates] there is compensation, people will keep doing what they are already doing. If there won’t be compensation, there’ll be riots in the streets and people wearing yellow vests. None of these scenarios is a good one.”
None of these scenarios are good because they are nonsense.
One option tentatively under discussion is buying up coastal homes that will eventually become uninsurable and allowing the owners to continue to live there, at their own risk.
“People could live in those properties for a couple of decades. They may not be able to be privately insured, but [the owner] takes an element of risk and and lives there…but knows that at some point the house will basically become unusable,” the source said.
Here’s some facts.
The average sea level rise in New Zealand is currently 3.4 mm a year. So at the current rate you would expect sea levels to be 6.8 cm higher in 20 years time. That is not going to be swamping or drowning any residence unless it is literally on the beach at the high tide mark.
Very very few houses stay with the same owner for even 20 years. In fact recent data on house sales show the last time the house sold was seven years before that.
Almost every coastal property will be sold multiple times before sea level rise has a serious impact on it. And buyers will take into account projected rise when they buy.
Even if a coastal home owner keeps their home all their life, the chances are they will die long before sea level rise affects their property.
In the long term, sea level rise will affect many coastal properties. But the current IPCC data does not suggest a huge increase in the next few decades.